Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Autobiography as Language

Image borrowed from Bing

Autobiography as Language

Blame military life, family scuttling
from Los Angeles to Germany,

back again before my words
could find the vocal fold of English.

Blame the bilinguality of chance.
German first--ham fisted umlauts,

non-negotiable consonants stacked
by the hubbub of need. Blame

the new neighborhood, four parts
Mexican, no parts half-blood.

Or blame me, cardboard color heavier
than a sneaker in the back, fist

that makes the jaw clack. If the Mexicans
bum-rushing me before school

was bad, my mother making them
lunches was worse. You know they

don't have any food, pushing me out.
Peanut butter and jelly in tow for Alex,

Chucho, and John; brawlers who would
rather swing than understand why I looked

like them, but sounded like the man
at the newspaper stand. Blame pain,

turning everyone a ripe shade. Language
comes before crawling. Blame that.

Adrian Matejka


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